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Thecla

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First post in ages...

I used to be able to write prose and poetry. I was always a pantser, which meant exploring my way through the story, discarding stuff if it took me into a dead end, backtracking, rewriting. That was fine. I enjoyed not knowing what happened and finding out along the way. I didn't write fast, but I wrote consistently.

Then, after a couple of novels, I lost the knack of it. The source of my ability, whatever it was, dried up. I couldn't find my way out of the dead ends any more. Since pantsing was no longer working, I tried plotting, writing out a detailed chapter by chapter overview of a book. This got me nowhere. Turns out I can't write a story if I know what happens. Well, I can force out words, but the text is stilted and wooden and lacks all sense of character and flow. I tried changing genre and spent a good deal of time doing serious levels of research for an historical fiction. I enjoyed the research but my attempts to write the book withered and died.

About the same time I got blocked on fiction, the trick of versifying disappeared. Since then I've used writing prompts and completed writing exercises, I've set timers and written freely without worrying about joining the dots. I can still write sentences, and even scenes, but none of them add up to a novel with a beginning, middle and end (in any order!). Reading over the stuff I wrote years back, it feels as if somebody else was responsible. At this point it's been five years since I managed to complete anything.

If this is a phase I'm going through, how do I bring it to an end? Or should I just accept that that part of me has gone for good?
 

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I've got no answers at all, but if it's okay, I'll keep you company while we wait for those who do. It being Friday and nearly five o'clock where I am, how about a glass of wine? I have both reds and whites on hand. (This house came with a wine fridge and we feel obliged to use it; seeing it there makes me want it, like seeing a chocolate cake on a stand on the kitchen counter day after day.)

I could also come up with some crackers and possibly an interesting cheese. We can make an evening of it if it comes to that.

So, reading anything interesting?

Maryn, whose older daughter was delivered by a Thecla, long ago and far away
 
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First post in ages...

I used to be able to write prose and poetry. I was always a pantser, which meant exploring my way through the story, discarding stuff if it took me into a dead end, backtracking, rewriting. That was fine. I enjoyed not knowing what happened and finding out along the way. I didn't write fast, but I wrote consistently.

Then, after a couple of novels, I lost the knack of it. The source of my ability, whatever it was, dried up. I couldn't find my way out of the dead ends any more. Since pantsing was no longer working, I tried plotting, writing out a detailed chapter by chapter overview of a book. This got me nowhere. Turns out I can't write a story if I know what happens. Well, I can force out words, but the text is stilted and wooden and lacks all sense of character and flow. I tried changing genre and spent a good deal of time doing serious levels of research for an historical fiction. I enjoyed the research but my attempts to write the book withered and died.

About the same time I got blocked on fiction, the trick of versifying disappeared. Since then I've used writing prompts and completed writing exercises, I've set timers and written freely without worrying about joining the dots. I can still write sentences, and even scenes, but none of them add up to a novel with a beginning, middle and end (in any order!). Reading over the stuff I wrote years back, it feels as if somebody else was responsible. At this point it's been five years since I managed to complete anything.

If this is a phase I'm going through, how do I bring it to an end? Or should I just accept that that part of me has gone for good?
Yerk. That's no fun.

I guess it kind of depends on where you are in your writing journey.

I have seen a lot of writers who, when they start writing for the very first time, absolutely love it. It's fun, it's productive, and they don't know that craft even exists, let alone what it consists of, so they're totally free to write anything -- good, bad, or in between -- with complete unawareness. Then they learn the basics of the craft and become paralysed, because it's no longer unfettered fun to write. There are those nasty demons on the shoulder going "You just split an infinitive" and "Are you sure you've chosen the correct point of view?" and "That whole descriptive paragraph is utter rubbish." How to get past that? Accept that you'll have to write your million words of crap like everyone else, I guess.

I have seen a lot of writers who write well, but after a slew of form rejections, lose faith and can't drive themselves to make the leap from 'well' to 'well enough'. How to get past that? Interact with other writers and get support and cheerleading to push you to keep going.

I have seen a lot of writers who write at various levels but, because Life Reasons, lose their creativity and passion at some point. They can still write perfectly acceptable sentences and paragraphs and scenes, but they just can't make ideas turn into stories. How to get past that? For me, I've got started -- barely -- by becoming active in InkFinger's weekly challenges. Just a sentence, a paragraph, a scene -- but it makes me write, and it makes me write something new, and I reckon eventually enough of the ideas in those scenes might fit together into a story.

If it makes you feel any better, it's a lot more than five years since I've managed to complete anything, and I only write short stories.
 
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Thecla

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Cheers, Maryn. An interesting cheese sounds good. I have oatcakes to go with it. I've moved past the wine and into the camomile tea phase of the evening. I've got some bittermints, too, if they're your thing.

I'm rereading Mary Beard's 'SPQR' ahead of seeing the dame professor herself in a couple of weeks. You?
 

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If this is a phase I'm going through, how do I bring it to an end? Or should I just accept that that part of me has gone for good?
I have been there twice. Once, when my first book was published in the same week that my son became gravely ill, and once more recently because even though I desperately wanted and needed to write, my writing brain had left the building. It was incredibly hard to get through that period - writing has always been how I made sense of the world. I did all the things you will have tried, reading, arting, musicing, walking, journalling the moment I woke up and before I went to bed. Nothing worked.

However - !!!!

Last week I found some new characters had taken up lodgings in my imagination. I don't know why, but I've grabbed them, and I'm writing them. We'll see how that works.

I really just came in to say - when it starts happening again, you will be blown away with excitement and relief and delight all over again.

ETA: Please give my phone number to Mary Beard and tell her I've got a terrible crush on her, so if she's coming to Australia at any point....
 

Thecla

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Yerk. That's no fun.

I guess it kind of depends on where you are in your writing journey.

I have seen a lot of writers who, when they start writing for the very first time, absolutely love it. It's fun, it's productive, and they don't know that craft even exists, let alone what it consists of, so they're totally free to write anything -- good, bad, or in between -- with complete unawareness. Then they learn the basics of the craft and become paralysed, because it's no longer unfettered fun to write. There are those nasty demons on the shoulder going "You just split an infinitive" and "Are you sure you've chosen the correct point of view?" and "That whole descriptive paragraph is utter rubbish." How to get past that? Accept that you'll have to write your million words of crap like everyone else, I guess.

I have seen a lot of writers who write well, but after a slew of form rejections, lose faith and can't drive themselves to make the leap from 'well' to 'well enough'. How to get past that? Interact with other writers and get support and cheerleading to push you to keep going.

I have seen a lot of writers who write at various levels but, because Life Reasons, lose their creativity and passion at some point. They can still write perfectly acceptable sentences and paragraphs and scenes, but they just can't make ideas turn into stories. How to get past that? For me, I've got started -- barely -- by becoming active in InkFinger's weekly challenges. Just a sentence, a paragraph, a scene -- but it makes me write, and it makes me write something new, and I reckon eventually enough of the ideas in those scenes might fit together into a story.

If it makes you feel any better, it's a lot more than five years since I've managed to complete anything, and I only write short stories.
Thank you. It helps a lot knowing it's not just me. Writing friends have been very kind and encouraging, but, well, they're not blocked and I am.

I wouldn't mind writing utter rubbish. The magic happens in the editing, if there's something to edit. In your very helpful list, I'm at the 'ideas to stories'/'ideas to poems' level of blockage, for what it's worth. So maybe that gives me an idea. Thank you, again.
 

Thecla

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I have been there twice. Once, when my first book was published in the same week that my son became gravely ill, and once more recently because even though I desperately wanted and needed to write, my writing brain had left the building. It was incredibly hard to get through that period - writing has always been how I made sense of the world. I did all the things you will have tried, reading, arting, musicing, walking, journalling the moment I woke up and before I went to bed. Nothing worked.

However - !!!!

Last week I found some new characters had taken up lodgings in my imagination. I don't know why, but I've grabbed them, and I'm writing them. We'll see how that works.

I really just came in to say - when it starts happening again, you will be blown away with excitement and relief and delight all over again.

ETA: Please give my phone number to Mary Beard and tell her I've got a terrible crush on her, so if she's coming to Australia at any point....
I'm so sorry about your son. I hope he's recovered. It's more the writing brain left and hasn't come back. I do miss that part so much. It's good to know that it does come back (wish it would hurry up!). I'll look forward to catching up with its adventures.

Best of luck with the new characters. I hope they are weird and wonderful.

Noted about Mary Beard... At least not writing leaves time for reading.
 

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Thank you. It helps a lot knowing it's not just me. Writing friends have been very kind and encouraging, but, well, they're not blocked and I am.

I wouldn't mind writing utter rubbish. The magic happens in the editing, if there's something to edit. In your very helpful list, I'm at the 'ideas to stories'/'ideas to poems' level of blockage, for what it's worth. So maybe that gives me an idea. Thank you, again.
One trick that works for some people is to go read a bunch of really bad stories -- generally on those 'free to post, free to read' display sites -- and for each one, identify one good kernel of an idea buried beneath the godawful writing or the utter tripe. Write them down. There. You have some story ideas. Take them out for a spin. What you create from them will be nothing like the original, so you've not stolen anything, let alone plagiarised.

Another trick is to get an anthology or two or ten and just read the first paragraph, or the last paragraph, of each story. Again, write down whatever idea each one sparks.
 
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Chris P

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I have no answers either, except to go easy on yourself and not litter your head with "shoulds": should be writing, should be getting over this, should be doing something to get over this because I should be writing.

I've been pretty much blocked since 2014. July, 2014, and a sunny afternoon in July 2014 to be exact. If I pulled out my journals, I might even be able to get you a specific date. It was that sudden. After writing furiously since 2007, with a handful of published short stories, two published novels (both poorly selling and one POD from a scammer), I had completed two novels and a rewrite of a third in the prior two years. On that sunny July afternoon in 2014, I was facilitating a training session for the program I was in, and was excited to have some extra writing time when a session was cancelled. I opened the laptop, looked at the screen, and something just said "nope, not today." I closed the laptop, did something else, and for the next several years could not even look at my own words. No flaming reviews, no over the top rude rejection, just "nope, not today." I've dabbled, had a few false starts on a couple projects, but nope, still not feeling it. I passed a milestone birthday ending in a 0 this year, and I don't have too many of those left. Do I want to still be here on the next one ending in a 0? I don't want to, it would be nice to have those accomplishments in the win column, but on the other hand I can't muster up the passion to make the effort it would take worth it. I hope it will be back, but if not or until it does, I need to ask myself if I've made the most of the time spent not writing?
 

Thecla

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I have no answers either, except to go easy on yourself and not litter your head with "shoulds": should be writing, should be getting over this, should be doing something to get over this because I should be writing.

I've been pretty much blocked since 2014. July, 2014, and a sunny afternoon in July 2014 to be exact. If I pulled out my journals, I might even be able to get you a specific date. It was that sudden. After writing furiously since 2007, with a handful of published short stories, two published novels (both poorly selling and one POD from a scammer), I had completed two novels and a rewrite of a third in the prior two years. On that sunny July afternoon in 2014, I was facilitating a training session for the program I was in, and was excited to have some extra writing time when a session was cancelled. I opened the laptop, looked at the screen, and something just said "nope, not today." I closed the laptop, did something else, and for the next several years could not even look at my own words. No flaming reviews, no over the top rude rejection, just "nope, not today." I've dabbled, had a few false starts on a couple projects, but nope, still not feeling it. I passed a milestone birthday ending in a 0 this year, and I don't have too many of those left. Do I want to still be here on the next one ending in a 0? I don't want to, it would be nice to have those accomplishments in the win column, but on the other hand I can't muster up the passion to make the effort it would take worth it. I hope it will be back, but if not or until it does, I need to ask myself if I've made the most of the time spent not writing?
Thank you for this. Your tale is not entirely unlike mine. Believe me, it really does help knowing I'm not alone in this strange and protracted state of not writing. I hope it, whatever it is, comes back for you but, until it does, your attitude sounds a very healthy one.
 
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This might not be helpful, but in my twenties I wanted very much to be on stage. I got involved in community theatre, was fortunate enough to land a few leads, even learned to carry a short tune. Heady times. I studied my butt off about what acting is, and what performing is. People said once bitten by the theater bug I'd never recover...but then kids came along. I half-heartedly auditioned for a few shows after that, wondering when on Earth I'd find time to learn lines and who would watch the kids and so on, and told myself that once they were grown I'd surely get back into it. Because there's nothing like theater.

Logistically, I think I could audition for a show with the local theater, now, if I wanted to. But I don't want to. The drive isn't there. The bug left me. But if I did go back to it, it would have to be something I took on as a job--working certain hours, achieving certain benchmarks with each production, whatever it would be, that'd be how I'd need to approach it.

Maybe you're not blocked. Maybe you've moved on (or moved elsewhere). Life is a rich thing, so maybe other things in your life fill that space that writing once filled. Is that possible?
 

ChaseJxyz

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You're familiar with Maslow's hierarchy of needs? imo it's a little different for everyone, as how much something is stressing someone out affects different people. Like for me I would rather be housed and "cis" than homeless and trans, while some trans people come to SF, knowing full-well they'll be homeless, but they'd be able to get gender-affirming care.

For me, I need to not be constantly stressed about something so I can write...and I also need my ADHD in check. Stability and income are the things that need to be managed before writing can happen; the last time I was unemployed I was able to write a lot, but that's because the previous job I was constantly freaking out about my boss and if I'd get fired for coming out. I could write before I had ADHD meds but it had to be really novel/interesting concepts, and only then writing 1,000 words felt super difficult. But now on a good day I can write 6,000+ words because there aren't any pressing needs on my mind.

So, for you, what are the most important things? What do you need to feel happy and content? Which of those things do you not currently have? Maybe the stress of covid is really getting to you, or your job really sucks, or your missing communities you can't go to anymore. You can also ask yourself what does writing accomplish for you, and can you do something else in the meantime? If I want to make something and have people praise me for it, I'll cook/bake for friends. If I want to have visible progress for my efforts, I'll work on a plastic model, where it gets larger/more complex and more detailed the more hours I put into it (and then also people are very impressed when I'm done). If I want to process negative thoughts, I might read/watch/play something related to that or go birding or biking or something else where I can get into the right headspace for that.

It does take some introspection and reflection which can be tricky, but it'll help you a lot, with more than just writing.
 
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Thecla

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This might not be helpful, but in my twenties I wanted very much to be on stage. I got involved in community theatre, was fortunate enough to land a few leads, even learned to carry a short tune. Heady times. I studied my butt off about what acting is, and what performing is. People said once bitten by the theater bug I'd never recover...but then kids came along. I half-heartedly auditioned for a few shows after that, wondering when on Earth I'd find time to learn lines and who would watch the kids and so on, and told myself that once they were grown I'd surely get back into it. Because there's nothing like theater.

Logistically, I think I could audition for a show with the local theater, now, if I wanted to. But I don't want to. The drive isn't there. The bug left me. But if I did go back to it, it would have to be something I took on as a job--working certain hours, achieving certain benchmarks with each production, whatever it would be, that'd be how I'd need to approach it.

Maybe you're not blocked. Maybe you've moved on (or moved elsewhere). Life is a rich thing, so maybe other things in your life fill that space that writing once filled. Is that possible?
Thank you for this. It is helpful (everyone in this thread is helpful!) because it gives me another perspective. One gets so caught up in the thoughts going round and around in one's own head... This thread is breaking that pattern. All these different takes on life, and writing, and writer's (writers'?) block are very useful in offering different ways to think about the problem.

For what it's worth, I think I am blocked, if I define blocked as wanting to write but not being able to, even when I'm focussed on it and have a concrete idea about what I want to write about. The idea of having moved on is interesting. Not consciously, no, but this has been going on for such a time now that I have been wondering if this is me, now, and I should accept it.
 
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Thecla

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You're familiar with Maslow's hierarchy of needs? imo it's a little different for everyone, as how much something is stressing someone out affects different people. Like for me I would rather be housed and "cis" than homeless and trans, while some trans people come to SF, knowing full-well they'll be homeless, but they'd be able to get gender-affirming care.

For me, I need to not be constantly stressed about something so I can write...and I also need my ADHD in check. Stability and income are the things that need to be managed before writing can happen; the last time I was unemployed I was able to write a lot, but that's because the previous job I was constantly freaking out about my boss and if I'd get fired for coming out. I could write before I had ADHD meds but it had to be really novel/interesting concepts, and only then writing 1,000 words felt super difficult. But now on a good day I can write 6,000+ words because there aren't any pressing needs on my mind.

So, for you, what are the most important things? What do you need to feel happy and content? Which of those things do you not currently have? Maybe the stress of covid is really getting to you, or your job really sucks, or your missing communities you can't go to anymore. You can also ask yourself what does writing accomplish for you, and can you do something else in the meantime? If I want to make something and have people praise me for it, I'll cook/bake for friends. If I want to have visible progress for my efforts, I'll work on a plastic model, where it gets larger/more complex and more detailed the more hours I put into it (and then also people are very impressed when I'm done). If I want to process negative thoughts, I might read/watch/play something related to that or go birding or biking or something else where I can get into the right headspace for that.

It does take some introspection and reflection which can be tricky, but it'll help you a lot, with more than just writing.
This is really good advice and not just for writing. Thank you. You've given me a lot to think about and good deal of sensible advice. And yes, the last couple of years have offered new opportunities for stress and frustration, though no more for me than anyone else. Writing used to be a way of escaping all that!
 
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Thecla

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To everyone who has responded: Thank you! It's rather overwhelming to find so many strangers care enough to write these sensible, humane and helpful responses. As I noted above, one gets so caught up in the inside of one's own head and thinking the same thoughts over and over. This gets me outside that particular box. I'm not sure things will change magically in a day or so but it is good to have these other strategies and to know I'm not alone.
 
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This is something I have been wondering about a lot lately too. Not about writing, but about art. I loved drawing and painting in my teens, often did it every spare bit of time I had. My school notes all had doodles in the margins. Had an Elfwood gallery and the lot. But despite all the practise I never got as good as I liked and there was always somebody better. (which I can deal with better now, but I still remember how it stung to teenage me.)

And then I joined one writing challenge on a whim and I enjoyed it so much, that writing took the place of drawing in my spare time. It's been like that some 15 years so.

I've recently hit 40 and, hoo boy, do you start to dwell on things at such milestones... I realised I wasn't the same person I was ten years ago. I'm kind of still working out whether I should try recapture who I was or learn to be satisfied with who I am now and improve from there.

You never mind as much as your childhood hobbies fade into the background, that's part of growing up, but for some reason you expect your adult hobbies to remain with you for the rest of your life. I think that expectation might be where I went wrong. I'm still trying to come to terms that it's okay to let go of what I loved before. Life's just to short to fit in everything (but I'd love to have less regrets about that all the same.)

Art is one of the things I lost in that period. I do still feel guilty about not taking it up again. (oh oh all those art supplies...) I draw the odd thing, designed my sister's baby cards and such but apart from that... I've been thinking about a mural for like 4 years now, still haven't started. Might just decide to go with a photo wallpaper instead because the art is just... not happening. Like Woollybear said the drive I used to have is gone.

These days I don't write as much as I used to either. But with writing I know there are other things at play. Like Chase mentioned already, stress and writing don't make a good mix for me either. I would like to do more writing and more art, but when I feel better, it is to writing that I turn.
 
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To everyone who has responded: Thank you! It's rather overwhelming to find so many strangers care enough to write these sensible, humane and helpful responses. As I noted above, one gets so caught up in the inside of one's own head and thinking the same thoughts over and over. This gets me outside that particular box. I'm not sure things will change magically in a day or so but it is good to have these other strategies and to know I'm not alone.
Also be aware that some people write creatively because they're miserable, and the more unhappy they are, the better they write. It's a not-pleasant trade-off.
 

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Have you tried epistolary novel writing? Or novels in verse? You might be better at that than writing a novel that's streams differently. It would still have to be a running theme, but this gives you much more freedom to connect in a different way. If you're interested in this idea, maybe read a few novels like this and see if anything sparks.

Like you said, you tried a lot of different things, and that's awesome. You are trying at least, and there's a spark right there. Start small, but keep building. You can attach your work in any way shape or form writing is in, a poem, an email, a menu, a grocery list, articles, documents, short stories.

You can do this in fiction or non fiction too. It took me a very long time to write in bigger word amounts. I started off writing poetry too. I still write in 250 words gusts and stop, then sprint again. Maybe write a bit, and break, and write a bit more. Like I'm going to write for 10 minutes and see where it goes.

Then again, not every single person on the planet can write a book. Give yourself room to write anything, not just novels. There are tons and tons of other things you can do with your writing. Maybe also send work out, even if it's old stuff. If you get some kind of praise, that would boost your writing a lot. You can try that too.

Good luck, whatever happens. And remember, just trying something, even if it's small, is still wonderful and is an accomplishment in it's own right.
 
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Thecla

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Have you tried epistolary novel writing? Or novels in verse? You might be better at that than writing a novel that's streams differently. It would still have to be a running theme, but this gives you much more freedom to connect in a different way. If you're interested in this idea, maybe read a few novels like this and see if anything sparks.

Like you said, you tried a lot of different things, and that's awesome. You are trying at least, and there's a spark right there. Start small, but keep building. You can attach your work in any way shape or form writing is in, a poem, an email, a menu, a grocery list, articles, documents, short stories.

You can do this in fiction or non fiction too. It took me a very long time to write in bigger word amounts. I started off writing poetry too. I still write in 250 words gusts and stop, then sprint again. Maybe write a bit, and break, and write a bit more. Like I'm going to write for 10 minutes and see where it goes.

Then again, not every single person on the planet can write a book. Give yourself room to write anything, not just novels. There are tons and tons of other things you can do with your writing. Maybe also send work out, even if it's old stuff. If you get some kind of praise, that would boost your writing a lot. You can try that too.

Good luck, whatever happens. And remember, just trying something, even if it's small, is still wonderful and is an accomplishment in it's own right.
Thank you. This is very thoughtful and helpful. To answer your serious question with a trivial answer, I've tried just about everything, including a story in ballad form that quickly descended into doggerel. The sort of thing not even its creator could love! I've shared my work in progress with people who write (well) themselves. When I found I was stuck, they helped with brainstorming sessions and what happens next suggestions. But still that novel is blocked.

My problem is not actually writing scenes or characters, it's writing something complete and coherent, be that long form or short story. I previously pantsed my way through a couple of structurally quite complex novels so I know I can do it. That approach is not working now, and - alas - various means of kick starting it aren't working either, and I'm trying to figure out why. There have been a lot of insightful suggestions in this thread. The answer may be a lot bigger than I'd thought.

PS: You mentioned verse novels - have you read Seth's Golden Gate? Or Barber's The Marlowe Papers? Both are wonderful.
 

Thecla

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This is something I have been wondering about a lot lately too. Not about writing, but about art. I loved drawing and painting in my teens, often did it every spare bit of time I had. My school notes all had doodles in the margins. Had an Elfwood gallery and the lot. But despite all the practise I never got as good as I liked and there was always somebody better. (which I can deal with better now, but I still remember how it stung to teenage me.)

And then I joined one writing challenge on a whim and I enjoyed it so much, that writing took the place of drawing in my spare time. It's been like that some 15 years so.

I've recently hit 40 and, hoo boy, do you start to dwell on things at such milestones... I realised I wasn't the same person I was ten years ago. I'm kind of still working out whether I should try recapture who I was or learn to be satisfied with who I am now and improve from there.

You never mind as much as your childhood hobbies fade into the background, that's part of growing up, but for some reason you expect your adult hobbies to remain with you for the rest of your life. I think that expectation might be where I went wrong. I'm still trying to come to terms that it's okay to let go of what I loved before. Life's just to short to fit in everything (but I'd love to have less regrets about that all the same.)

Art is one of the things I lost in that period. I do still feel guilty about not taking it up again. (oh oh all those art supplies...) I draw the odd thing, designed my sister's baby cards and such but apart from that... I've been thinking about a mural for like 4 years now, still haven't started. Might just decide to go with a photo wallpaper instead because the art is just... not happening. Like Woollybear said the drive I used to have is gone.

These days I don't write as much as I used to either. But with writing I know there are other things at play. Like Chase mentioned already, stress and writing don't make a good mix for me either. I would like to do more writing and more art, but when I feel better, it is to writing that I turn.
I'm sorry you've experienced something similar. You make some very interesting points about changing interests over a life time. Yes, ageing does lead to retrospection and introspection. I'm not the person I was ten years ago, no one can be - surely - because those ten years have happened. I suppose in the end one has to accept this is who I am now. If I'd rather be another version of me, the future is still open, but past me has gone.

I'm not sure I'm more stressed, or less stressed, than I was back when writing was easy, but I am differently stressed; this thread is helping me think about how and why. It's likely that some stresses are more compatible with creativity than others.
 
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Friendly Frog

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Seems like you're a little further ahead than me. Finding out I was not the same person I was ten years ago came a bit as a surprise, honestly. I never quite got used to the idea of adult me, I suppose.

I hope we'll figure it out. 🙂
 
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WriteMinded

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I wish I could offer help, but I am at a standstill myself. So I'll just enjoy your company.

Every book I write - and there aren't that many of them because they are long and I am slow - comes to a dead halt somewhere along the way. I am there now, feeling like I'm standing in a walled courtyard. I guess I'm a pantser but, unlike the OP, I know where the story starts and where/how it ends. Getting there without hitting the stone wall is the problem.

Here is another oddity. I used to draw, work with oils - Hello Friendly Frog - and then I started writing and put the art work aside. In the last couple of years, my life has been . . . I can only say, utterly destroyed . . . but during the lockdowns, I purchased the necessary tools and sat down to do some sketching. I seem to have forgotten how to draw. It's like I've never had any experience with it at all. So here I am blocked and blocked.

I'm not sure more effort will help. The art may (or may not) be gone for good, but I will never give up on the writing. I will suffer, struggle, and drag myself onward.
 

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Writing used to be a way of escaping all that!

I used to write humorous fantasy. It was my preferred form of escapism. My idea of fun.

Then a prolonged writer's block set in. It ended when I started work on a book that was far, far out of my comfort zone. The words flowed easily, but there was no fun involved in this one. It was emotionally draining to write. Not just a genre switch either, but also style, tone and POV, so challenging on many levels.

I didn't actually make a conscious decision to write it, I just started thinking about it all of the time, and then the words came.

After that, another writer's block hit. This one ended when I wrote something else that was also wayyyy out of my comfort zone, but that had a welcome familiarity--horror comedy. Also hard to write because horror used to repulse me...still does...

So, if you usually produce stuff that is escapism for you, maybe thinking about writing out of your comfort zone might break that block?

Or the opposite--if you usually write demanding stuff, maybe thinking about your comfort food might prompt some progress?

(I haven't actually written anything new for a while, so maybe I need to take my own advice. I've put the idea in my own head now by writing this post, so that's a start. Fingers crossed.)
 
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I am a planner, I spend a lot of time figuring out where I want things to be. Without the map of where I am going I would get lost. If you enjoy pantsing and improvisation I would write out a bare minimum of where things would be headed and use it only as vague guideposts along the way.

If you don't feel like drafting then work on characters. My suggestion would be a rpg approach. I don't know how well accepted rpg type things are in the writing community, but it might help. Sometimes at the beginning of a story I like to take the character and make them write an interview or a journal to get to know more about them. Also in the rpg style you can write down a list of character traits, quirks even appearance or any type of list you want and roll dice to see what it lands on.

Write down a paragraph synopsis of what the story is about. Then take each of those sentences and branch them out into the sections of the book. After that branch those sentences into chapters.

Anyway my advice is to vomit draft, no matter how bad it is. Even if you can't come up with a storyline make that in itself a metaphor, or start by having your character talk about how stuck they feel in something.

Last time I couldn't write, was because I needed a break. My brain just said no, no more can't do it. Sometimes things are just like that. There is a tarot card the four of swords. It has a knight in a tomb with swords hanging above their head. Basically it means to take a break before you are forced to take a break.

There is a quote I have written down in one of my planners. I am not sure where I got it from, but it says "Ask the calling force if you are done. If yes, sigh relief, if no, get back to writing."
 
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Thecla

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I wish I could offer help, but I am at a standstill myself. So I'll just enjoy your company.

Every book I write - and there aren't that many of them because they are long and I am slow - comes to a dead halt somewhere along the way. I am there now, feeling like I'm standing in a walled courtyard. I guess I'm a pantser but, unlike the OP, I know where the story starts and where/how it ends. Getting there without hitting the stone wall is the problem.

Here is another oddity. I used to draw, work with oils - Hello Friendly Frog - and then I started writing and put the art work aside. In the last couple of years, my life has been . . . I can only say, utterly destroyed . . . but during the lockdowns, I purchased the necessary tools and sat down to do some sketching. I seem to have forgotten how to draw. It's like I've never had any experience with it at all. So here I am blocked and blocked.

I'm not sure more effort will help. The art may (or may not) be gone for good, but I will never give up on the writing. I will suffer, struggle, and drag myself onward.
Yes, let's enjoy each other's company (and sorry for the delayed response - I've been away).

Thanks for your kind response. I'm sorry you've experienced a similar sticking point, possibly far worse than mine. And so, sending waves of sympathy and support. What has and is helping is the knowledge from this thread that I'm not alone. I'm not unblocked but I'm a bit less worried about being blocked. I do hope it lifts, however, as I'd like to finish the story.

Best of luck to you.
 
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